Titans #26 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Brent Peeples, Penciller; Matt Santorelli, Inker; Hi-Fi, Colorist
Ray – 6/10
Corrina: Are We Ever Going To Have a Good Titans Series? Magic 8-Ball says “Very Doubtful.”
Ray: It’s been clear over the last few issues that this new take on Titans doesn’t really work, but the last issue introduced a new x-factor into the team that spiced things up. That would be the addition of teen genius Ben Rubel, who encountered the team on one of their missions and has essentially talked his way into becoming their tech expert.
Rubel comes from the Orlando/Houser Supergirl run, where he was Supergirl’s best friend and potential love interest. In Titans #26, under Abnett, he has a slightly more sinister streak, getting close to the team and learning their secrets – which he then has the chance to leverage. I doubt he’ll wind up going to the dark side, but there’s an edge to him that wasn’t there before. His introduction to the team dynamic is the most interesting part of the issue, as he spars with Steel over their mutual expertise in tech before developing an uneasy rapport. He also winds up in possession of Miss Martian’s darkest secret – her true nature – before the issue is through.
And it’s a good thing he’s there to shake up the issue because the main plot couldn’t be less interesting. The team is called into action for a new potential emergent event, but what they find there is very different. They arrive in a small town only to find it completely depopulated and are soon attacked by mysterious blood monsters. These shambling monstrosities viciously target the Titans, and when they injure Beast Boy he begins to lose control of his new form. Many members of this team seem to be beset by one condition or another – Beast Boy is the Hulk now, Raven’s lost her soul-self, and Miss Martian is working to keep her true White Martian nature secret. Oh, and Donna Troy is a drunk, which comes out of nowhere and seems like it would fit Artemis more anyway. The issue ends on a downer note that reveals the true horror of what Mother Blood has done to the town, and makes it hard to enjoy anything about the team dynamic. The book as a whole has a lot of mood whiplash, and the team dynamic isn’t strong enough to make up for it.
Corrina: ::searches for something positive to say::
The Titans winter uniforms are cool, especially Nightwing’s jacket. Overall, the artwork is consistently excellent and I loved how it flowed through the panels of the blood creatures’ attack.
But the story still doesn’t work. It was predictable the minute the blood monsters attacked that they were formed from the dead townspeople. And why aren’t the Titans working on finding Raven’s missing soul self, rather than simply sidelining her to the background? Finding her soul self seems…important? Meanwhile, Dick is brooding about the dead townspeople but here’s Gar, whose power is betraying him, and Dick has no compassion for what just went down for Gar? (Gar gets over that Hulk out pretty fast, too.) As for Donna’s drinking, it feels like they had no idea what to do with her, so they gave her a bottle.
I don’t get the sense that any of these people are friends or even want to be friends. Without that friendship, a Titans book is never going to work.
Ben’s presence is interesting in that it humanizes Natasha in a way she hasn’t been as yet during this series. (Natasha is great but she shouldn’t be this grim and dismissive genius.) That Ben has an edge now is also predictable because, hey, everyone has to have one in this book.
Overall, I’m more interested in what happens when Dick is no longer the leader of the team (see Batman #55) than I am in the ongoing plot with Mother Blood.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.